An 8ft-long ichthyosaurus fossil preserved for 180 million years is said to sell for more than £500,000

by NewsTimeOffice



A complete fossil of a 180 million-year-old marine reptile is said to sell for more than £500,000 at auction.

It is the skeleton of an ichthyosaur – a Jurassic predator about eight feet (2.4 m) long – and was preserved in soft carbonate mud before it was excavated.

This specimen was discovered in the early 2000s in a geological formation in Lorraine, France, during the construction of the high-speed TGV rail line.

Because most complete ichthyosaur fossils belong to museums, those that appear on the private market usually command high prices.

It goes on sale at Bonhams in Paris on December 13 and is expected to fetch several thousand.

Claudia Florian, consultant director of Bonhams natural history, said: ‘This skeleton is extremely complete with over 80 per cent original bones in total.

‘This is the first such complete specimen found in France to be offered at auction.’

This specimen was discovered in the early 2000s in a geological formation in Lorraine, France, during the construction of the high-speed TGV railway line.

Ichtyhosaurs – meaning ‘fish lizard’ in Greek – were a genus of reptiles that flourished during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods from 252 to 90 million years ago.

The fossil is being sold at Bonhams in Paris on December 13 and is expected to sell for tens of thousands.

Claudia Florian, consultant director of Bonhams natural history, said: ‘This skeleton is extremely complete with more than 80 per cent original bones in total.’

What were ICHYTHYOSURS?

Ichthyosaurs were a highly successful group of marine reptiles that became extinct about 90 million years ago.

They appeared during the Triassic, reached their peak during the Jurassic, and disappeared during the Cretaceous.

Often misidentified as swimming dinosaurs, these reptiles appeared before the first dinosaurs.

They evolved from an as-yet-unidentified land reptile that returned to water.

Scientists have calculated that one species had a cruising speed of 22 miles (36 km).

The largest species of ichthyosaurs are believed to have grown to 20 meters (65 ft) in length.

At 11 feet (3.5 m) the largest complete ichthyologists fossil ever discovered was found with a fetus still inside its womb.

He added: ‘Complete and well-preserved specimens are rare.

‘Some of the famous specimens tend to be flattened in mudstone deposits, so it is very rare to find an example like this, where the skeleton is not only well represented but the bones are preserved in three dimensions. ‘

Ichtyhosaurs – meaning ‘fish lizard’ in Greek – were a genus of reptiles that flourished during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods from 252 to 90 million years ago.

Originating in the sea, they eventually moved to land before evolving back into water.

They are famous for their fish-like shape, similar to today’s dolphins, but are often misidentified as swimming dinosaurs.

In 1811, 12-year-old English paleontologist Mary Anning found the first complete ichthyosaur skeleton at Lyme Regis in Dorset.

In 1840, the order Ichthyosauria was introduced by the English biologist Sir Richard Owen, and today about 80 species are recognized.

The fossil up for auction is one of the best preserved and most complete of its kind.

Thousands of bones were individually excavated and reconstructed for its creation before being placed on the brass stand.

Ms Florian said: ‘Extraordinary skill and precision enabled not only the extraction of fossilized bones one by one from its matrix, but also the reconstruction of the skeleton in 3D.

‘Only a handful of ichthyosaurs have been reconstructed in this way.

‘This individual sample represents over two years of work by one expert.

‘This species of ichthyosaur, in particular, Stenopterygians, has not been studied in depth and there is very little literature on it.

‘This sale presents a unique and exciting opportunity for scientific research by a museum or private collector.’

The fossil up for auction is one of the best preserved and most complete of its kind. Thousands of bones were individually excavated and reconstructed for its creation before being placed on the brass stand

Because most complete ichthyosaur fossils belong to museums, those on display in the private market are usually priced high.

In May, a 139-million-year-old ichthyosaur fossil was discovered in Chile that was pregnant with several babies at the time of its death.

The animal’s remains, named Fiona, were discovered by researchers in a melting glacier deep in Patagonia.

The findings add evidence that ichthyosaurs gave birth to young, unlike egg-laying dinosaurs.

The first known pregnant ichthyosaur fossil was discovered in 1749 and scientifically described in 1842.

It was the largest complete fossil on record at 11 feet (3.5 m) long.

In May, a 139-million-year-old ichthyosaur fossil was discovered in Chile that was pregnant with several cubs at the time of its death.

The animal’s remains, named Fiona, were discovered by researchers in deep melting glaciers in Patagonia

Another ichthyosaur fossil was found in 2021 at the bottom of Rutland Reservoir in the Midlands and was called one of the greatest discoveries in British fossil history.

It was the largest and most complete skeleton found in the UK, measuring 32 feet (10 m) in length, with a skull weighing a tonne.

The specimen was found to have lived approximately 180 million years ago, when the reservoir was drained to improve habitat for breeding birds.

A team of UK paleontology experts had to remove the huge skeleton with a tractor.

Another ichthyosaur fossil was found at the bottom of Rutland Reservoir in the Midlands in 2021 and was hailed as one of the greatest discoveries in British fossil history.

Paleontologists spent 14 days excavating the discovery before removing it in August 2021.

Ichthyosaurs had blubber similar to whales

From seals to whales, many marine animals have a thick layer of fat directly under their skin known as blubber.

Now, a new study shows for the first time that ichthyosaurs — ancient marine reptiles that lived 150 million years ago — also had blubber.

Scientists at Oslo’s Natural History Museum studied the remains of an ichthyosaur discovered in the Solnhofen area of ​​southern Germany.

The specimen has a complete internal skeleton, which the team says was amazingly preserved for its blubber.

Read more

Related Posts

Leave a Comment